In India, there are legal safeguards against harassment and discrimination at work. The problems of workplace harassment and discrimination have received a lot of attention lately. It is critical to know that such actions could have detrimental effects on the employee as well as the organisation. There are rules in existence in India to safeguard workers from harassment and discrimination at work. The legal safeguards against workplace harassment and discrimination in India will be covered in this blog.
Any unwanted behaviour that is motivated by a person’s race, gender, caste, religion, age, or other personal trait is considered workplace harassment. This behaviour, which can be physical, verbal, or nonverbal, can make the workplace unfriendly, intimidating, or offensive. Workplace bullying, sexual harassment, and discrimination are a few examples of workplace harassment.
When an employee is treated unfairly at work because of their colour, gender, caste, religion, age, or any other personal trait, this is known as workplace discrimination. Discrimination can take many different forms, such as unfair pay, being passed over for a promotion, or being denied access to particular perks or opportunities. In the recruitment process, discrimination can also take place when candidates are accepted or rejected based more on their personal traits than their qualifications.
The Indian government has taken a number of actions to safeguard workers from harassment and discrimination at work. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act was passed by the Indian Parliament in 2013. This statute defines sexual harassment and establishes a framework for handling such situations legally. All women must abide by the legislation, whether they are full-time or part-time workers, interns, or apprentices. It also includes women who work in the public and private sectors, as well as in the organised and unorganised sectors.
Employers are required to establish an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to accept complaints of sexual harassment under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act. The ICC is in charge of looking into the complaint, conducting an investigation, and proposing the best course of action for the accused. The employer must take the proper disciplinary action, which can range from a warning to the loss of employment, if the accused is found guilty of sexual harassment. The law also stipulates a punishment for non-compliance, which may involve fines and jail time.
In addition to the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, India has various laws that defend workers from prejudice. Discrimination on the basis of religion, ethnicity, caste, sex, or place of birth is outlawed by the Indian Constitution. Equal compensation for equal effort is guaranteed by the Equal Remuneration Act of 1976. Employees who fall under these groups are shielded from harassment and discrimination by the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989.
People with disabilities are protected from workplace discrimination under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act of 2016. According to the Act, companies must provide employees with disabilities with reasonable accommodations, such as specialised equipment or workplace modifications. Additionally, it forbids discrimination against workers with disabilities by businesses in hiring, promoting, and firing decisions.
Although the Indian government has taken various steps to safeguard workers from harassment and discrimination at work, there remain difficulties in putting these legal protections into practise. The lack of employee knowledge of their rights is one of the main problems. It can be challenging for employees to report occurrences of harassment and discrimination because many do not know the laws that protect them from these practises.
Of course, this provides a more thorough explanation of the difficulties in putting legal safeguards against harassment and discrimination at work in India.
Lack of Knowledge
The absence of employee knowledge of their rights is one of the biggest obstacles to applying legal safeguards against harassment and discrimination at work. It can be challenging for employees to report occurrences of harassment and discrimination because many do not know the laws that protect them from these practises. There are a number of causes for this ignorance, including a lack of education, a lack of informational resources, and language problems.
For instance, because they might not have access to information and resources, workers in the unorganised sector might not be aware of their legal rights. Similar to this, workers who struggle to understand legal terminology may have trouble understanding their rights and the legal procedures associated with registering complaints. By organising training programmes, workshops, and awareness campaigns, it is crucial to raise employee awareness of their rights.
Fear of reprisal
Fear of reprisal is another obstacle to adopting legal safeguards against harassment and discrimination at work. Because they are worried about losing their employment or encountering reprisal from coworkers or supervisors, many employees may be reluctant to report instances of harassment and discrimination. When the defendant is accused of holding a position of authority or influence inside the organisation, this anxiety may be particularly strong.
Employers should provide a secure and encouraging atmosphere for staff members to report instances of harassment and discrimination in order to address this issue. Employees should be encouraged to report such instances without worrying about being punished, and employers should reassure them of anonymity. Employers should also take proactive measures to safeguard staff members from retribution if they report instances of harassment and discrimination, such as offering them counselling, legal aid, or other types of support.
The improper application of the legislation presents another difficulty in establishing legal protections against workplace harassment and discrimination. It’s possible for employers to dismiss claims of harassment and discrimination or to fail to take proper action against the Accuser. Various factors, including a lack of knowledge of the legal requirements, reluctance to confront the accused, or pressure from higher authorities, may be to blame for this inaction.
Employers should take action to make sure that the laws are correctly applied in their organizations in order to address this difficulty. This can be accomplished by creating internal allegations Committees (ICCs) to handle allegations of harassment and discrimination and by making sure the ICCs have the necessary training. Additionally, employers should regularly educate staff members about the law and their rights and make sure that harassment and discrimination are not tolerated in the workplace.
In conclusion, legislative safeguards against harassment and discrimination at work are essential for fostering a respected and secure work environment. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, the Constitution of India, the Equal Remuneration Act, and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act are just a few of the measures the Indian government has taken to safeguard employees from this behaviour.
The successful implementation of these legal protections, however, can be hampered by issues including employee ignorance of their rights, fear of retaliation, and improper application of the law. In order to overcome these obstacles and establish a harassment- and discrimination-free workplace environment, companies, workers, and the government must collaborate.